It’s been 40 years to the day when flood waters changed the city of Rapid City and its residents forever.
Now, you can find many people at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, gathering together to remember and even comfort each other as they think back to the events of June 9, 1972. Anyone who wanted to show their personal memorabilia of the flood was welcome to share their collection at the civic center this weekend.
Steve Swanson was just 14-year-old when the flood hit Rapid City and on Saturday he shared a collection of newspaper clippings and pictures of his father’s.
“My dad was Leonard Swanson, the public works director at the time of the flood,” Swanson said.
Swanson remembers riding his bike to work on June 9, 1972. Because of heavy rains, his father picked him up from work. They were near Baken Park when the water started breeching.
“We were safe,” he said. “I was with my dad until midnight and then he was gone for three days working. He would call us and report in every now and then so we knew he was okay.”
Swanson said during those three days his father was working tirelessly to clean up the damage from the flood.
Leonard Swanson spent 34 years with the city of Rapid City and after the flood, his position with the city changed to the urban renewal director. There he worked to clean up the city after the flood.
Swanson’s father died in 2008 but his memory lives on in a unique way in Rapid City. The bike path was named for the public servant after his death to recognize his leadership and rebuilding efforts after the flood.
The Leonard ‘Swanny’ Swanson Memorial Pathway is a paved bike path that runs along Rapid Creek.